Feb 112017

Disclosure: I received Thin Stix by Kwik Stix to review. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

The Reality of Art Projects

“Mommy, can we paint?”

In my head –  “Ugh.  Not paint. I will have to find newspaper for the table. And where did I put those shirts we were using for smocks? And then there’s the wet paint on everyone’s hands.”

What I say –  “Wouldn’t you rather play outside? Or color with crayons?”

“No, we want to paint.”

In my head – “I really should let them. Kids should be allowed to experiment with different art media. It’s ok if they make a mess. If they were in school, I bet they’d have more chances to paint.”

“OK, Give me a few minutes to get everything set up.”

15 minutes later…

“Everything’s ready. You can paint now.”

5 minutes later…

“Thanks Mommy! Do you like my picture? We’re going to play outside now.”


Art Time

Does anything about my story sound familiar? I want my kids to have fun doing art projects. I want to be a “Yes” mom. But extra work and extra mess goes against my nature. Sometimes I just say yes and deal with the mess. But other times I just say no. Not now. And that’s ok too. However, I have found a solution to those times when the kids want to paint, but I don’t want the mess..

Thin Stix by Kwik Stix

Thin stix

The solution is Kwik Stix! Kwik Stix are tempera paints in a stick. There are no brushes to clean and no liquid paint to spill. There is no need for smocks. It dries in 90 seconds so there’s no running, smearing or smudging.

I received a package of Thin Stix by Kwik Stix to review. I opened them up and gathered my review team. They immediately went to work creating a variety of pictures.

The paint goes on smoothly and evenly. The colors are vibrant and the stix are easy to use. You just twist up more when needed, like chapstick.

Is it painting? Technically, no. But it is art.

These are great for school projects like posters. It is so much easier to write letters with Thin Stix than a paint brush.

Interested in trying Kwik Stix? You can purchase at Amazon.com and select retailers such as Books A Million and Target.

Thin Stix Art Gallery

Abstract Art by Lizzie, age 10

Flower by Anna, age 16

Rainbow by Andrew, age 6

Bob and Larry by Andrew, age 6

Sunny scene by Anna, age 16


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Aug 032016

Compass Classroom recently released a new modern history class entitled Modernity, and they gave me the opportunity to preview the course. Covering a wide range of topics from modern history including the Enlightenment, Napoleon, the Industrial Revolution, and the World Wars, the high school level class consists of 27 weekly lessons. Each lesson includes 5 video segments with instructor Dave Raymond that are approximately 20 minutes long.

Along with the video, there are accompanying reading assignments available in Kindle, pdf, and epub formats. In addition to the lecture and reading, the student works on a portfolio and several projects over the course of the school year. The modern history projects include a Reformation Imitation Project, a Speech on Tradition, a Research Paper, and the Hour Project.

The Hour Project is an open-ended final project of the student’s choosing. It should be something that takes a substantial number of hours to complete (they recommend 30-40) and can showcase the talents and interests of the student. Some examples in the teacher guide include copying a famous paintings, making a reproduction of a piece of Victorian furniture, or creating an illustrated children’s book.


4 things to love about Modernity

  1. Easy to teach – The course is well-laid out and teacher friendly. It’s divided into daily lessons so it’s very open and go with little to no planning required.
  2. Interesting presentation –  Dave Raymond is excited about history and it shows in his presentation. He’s interesting to listen to. While much of the video is lecture, there is a nice blend of related images mixed with the video of the speaker.
  3. Christian Worldview – There is plenty of opportunity to study history from the politically correct, secular worldview. This class not only teaches history from a Christian perspective, but also provides the Christian perspective of why history is important to study.
  4. Variety – While the format is predictable with 5 daily videos and corresponding readings, the projects and portfolio pages add the opportunity for students to be creative and truly own the content.

If you’re looking for an American History course you can read my review.

Discloser: I received a free download of 8 lessons of Modernity in order to write this review. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed are my own. This post includes affiliate links.

Apr 202016

As a homeschool mom of 5 who works part-time from home, I have a lot to manage. Between working, keeping up with my teenagers’ schedules, teaching my younger children, and managing my home, free time is rare. Recently I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my lack of close friends. I’ve tried to analyze the reason. I realize I don’t often write personal posts here (OK, so I don’t often write at all), so bear with me as I share.

Why don’t I have close mom friends?

Part of my situation can be explained by moving. I had a couple of very close friends as a young wife and mother. I made those friends at a time when it’s easy to make friends. My husband and I were newly married, and we had no children. Our friends also had no children at the beginning of our friendships. We were free to do lots of things with our friends and spend many late nights, talking, laughing, and playing games. We continued to do so after we had babies. What are portacribs for, right?

Then we moved to a different state. We joined a church 30 minutes from our home. It was hard to invite people over. With young children it seemed harder to build friendships. Being new, everybody already had friends. But I tried, and in that season I made some pretty good friends. I went to women’s Bible study at church and developed some friends there. I was no one’s best friend, but I did have a few ladies that I could talk to. During this time I also had a neighbor that I used to chat with a lot.

Then we moved again, closer to the church. Ironically at the same time that we moved closer, we left that church and joined a much smaller church. I had begun homeschooling a couple of years earlier and it had gotten to the point where attending a weekly daytime women’s Bible study was difficult because we basically lost an entire day of school. Around that time I went through a very difficult time after being rejected by a friend whom I had been meeting with for prayer and fellowship. Desperate to feel like I belonged, I asked to join a group of ladies (from the former church) who had been meeting for a regular evening Bible study. They let me join, and for a while I felt like one of the group. However, after the birth of my 4th child, I needed to host the group in my home because my husband was working a second job in the evenings and I had no childcare. The leader rejected my request, so that was the end of my involvement in that group.

That was over 9 years ago. The sting of that rejection is still there. That group of women still meet and go on weekend getaways. I’ve fought against the sadness that rises up when their pictures show up in my Facebook feed. I’ve wondered for years, what is so wrong with me?

Better Together: Because You’re Not Meant to Mom Alone

Better Together Cover Mom Friends

I was recently given the opportunity to review the book Better Together: Because You’re Not Meant to Mom Alone. Since I had already been pondering the topic, I thought it might be a good read.

Jill Savage and her adult daughter, Anne McClane. do a great job analyzing the different levels of friendship and the various types of friends. The book has helpful tips for meeting new people and getting to know people. There is a mothering personality inventory and a variety of creative ideas for ways that friends can share each others’ burdens in the busy seasons of life. These include swapping baby sitting or having freezer cooking get togethers. One that I had never  thought of was working with a group of friends taking turns meeting at a different house to do a project with the friend that needs help.

Better Together is a useful resource, especially for those in women’s ministry leadership. It helped me to think through the hurts of my past and admit that one of the reasons that I haven’t made close friends is a fear of rejection and bitterness over past hurts. I also realized that another reason is that I am a bit selfish. I don’t often offer to help others and I’ve failed to invite people over because I’m too busy with my own family.

Important Reminders

Even though I can identify reasons in my own behavior to explain why I may have been in this season of lacking close friends, I  also remind myself that God is sovereign. He knows that I’ve been going through this, and He could have sent a close friend in spite of my friendship flaws. Instead, I have learned more about contentment. In my loneliness, God has been faithful to draw me closer to Himself.

I’m reminded of a quote by Elisabeth Elliot,

“God has promised to supply all our needs. What we don’t have now, we don’t need now.”

So while I agree that friends are good for moms, I can’t fully agree with the subtitle of this book. No, we’re not meant to mom alone, we’re meant to mom alongside a dad. Having close friends is a bonus.

Jun 282013

Disclosure: The following contains affiliate links.

I call myself a curriculum junkie. It started slowly when I first began researching homeschool curriculum.

But my addiction grew with each passing year. I really LOVE to research new curriculum. And if I get a chance to see and review curriculum, well, that’s even better.

I was a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew for several years and that kept me well supplied with new and different curriculum.

But then life got busier. We had our 5th child. I started homeschooling my 4th child. And I had to cut way back on reviews and just focus on just using the curriculum that we had.

This year was the year that my son was going to finish Latin 2 and be done. He’s not really that fond of Latin and we’re both ready to cross that off the list. But I found that he just couldn’t continue with the program that he was using. He hadn’t mastered the previous material, but it was a very disheartening prospect of repeating some of the course work he’d already finished.

So I started looking for an alternative. How could he regain some of the interest in Latin that he had lost along the way?

Visual LatinEnter Visual Latin.

I had actually reviewed Visual Latin the previous year, but we weren’t continuing with it because the early part was on topics that my son had truly mastered. But then I took a closer look. The teacher, Dwane Thomas , is so funny. And the downloads with worksheets included are a fantastic price. Plus it was such a low risk, since I could order 10 lessons and see how it went.

I have not regretted that decision. Visual Latin made such a difference this year. David worked through the lessons starting around lesson 20 and has almost completed the course. And he really does laugh while watching the lessons.

FilmmakingAfter getting off to such a good start with Visual Latin, I had my eye on another course from Compass Classroom: Filmmaking from the First Directors. When they ran a Black Friday special, I bought it.

The filmmaking class is still under development. The lessons are on-line. They include watching old films to learn the principles of filmmaking, then making short films. These films are uploaded allowing the class and instructor to make comments and suggestions on the assignment.

This has been a wonderful class for David. He really loves photography and making videos and has taught himself a great deal. The class is challenging. It has been extremely challenging for David because he is very much of a perfectionist when it comes to his films. I have appreciated the added accountability for him to have to finish a project before he could move on. You do complete the assignments at your own pace so there are no official deadlines, but just having it as an official project does help.

EconomicsThis coming school year, we’ll be adding another of Compass Classroom’s offerings: Economics for Everybody. I have reviewed that product and am excited to go through it again with David in the fall.

Compass Classroom offers free lessons for all of these courses. You can click on any of the buttons in this post to download the samples. If you have have a student who learns well with video lessons, you should take a look at these. I highly recommend them!

You can follow Compass Classroom on Facebook or Twitter and sign up for their newsletter to receive informative articles and notices of special sales events.



Jun 142013

We are wrapping up 1st grade for 6 year old Lizzie. It’s been a good year and she has learned a lot. Most of it was very relaxed learning.


I’ve often remarked to my husband that it’s a good thing that God did not give me Lizzie first. If He had, I might be one of those people who gush about how wonderful homeschooling is and how easy it is. But I know that isn’t always so. Boy, do I ever.

But with Lizzie being fourth in line with a couple of very needy kids ahead of her, (Needy in very different ways and for different reasons) it’s a good thing that she is very quick at learning and works well independently. (Mostly) She also is an independent reader which makes a huge difference in the demand for one-on-one instruction.

Here’s the curriculum she used this year.

***This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of the links, I will receive a small percentage.



184964: Singapore Math: Primary Math Workbook 1A US Edition

Singapore Math: Primary Math Workbook 1A US Edition By Singaporemath.com Inc

Miquon Red (almost done with this)

These are my favorite elementary math curricula. My oldest 2 children used this combination with great success. It didn’t work well for middle son because it was way too abstract for him.


380176: StoryTime Treasures Student GuideStoryTime Treasures Student Guide
By Memoria Press


380183: More StoryTime Treasures Student Guide

More StoryTime Treasures Student Guide, By Memoria Press (not quite finished)

This is the first time I have used these books from Memoria Press. I have to say, I love these! I love them even more than I thought I would. I was afraid they would be too work bookish (they are work books after all!), but I found them to have a wide variety of lessons based on classic children’s literature. They teach vocabulary, drawing inferences, basic grammar, elementary literature concepts, and more. I really, really liked them.


146262: Explode the Code, Book 3

Explode the Code, Book 3By Educators Publishing Service

This was a little too easy for her, but she likes workbooks sometimes so this was something that she could work on when she was in a big school mood. Plus, since she learned to read very easily, her phonics skills are a bit weak.


636135: New American Cursive, Book 1

New American Cursive, Book 1By Iris Hatfield / Memoria Press

I was sold on this in the Memoria Press catalog. I really like the idea of teaching cursive early. It made sense. It didn’t go super well though. This was one that needed a little more one-on-one time.

And that’s it for formal schooling.

No history? No science?

Well, no. Not formally.

I bought a sweet little history book for her,
79900: History For Little PilgrimsHistory For Little PilgrimsBy Christian Liberty Press

We just didn’t get much of it read. But she lives in a house with maps and globes, we bird watch (and all the other animals in the yard), she plays outside, and we hike. Last summer we traveled across the country visiting state capitals along the way. She finds the shapes of states in her chips and crackers. I think she’ll be ok.

What’s on deck for next year?

Mainly more of the same.

We’ll be using the next levels of Singapore and Miquon Math. I’m purchasing the literature guides for 2nd grade from Memoria Press. I am also going to be starting her in Prima Latina. Handwriting I’m still undecided about. I think I want to continue with the New American Cursive. I may add in a print book from Handwriting Without Tears as well.

I am hoping to go actually do some history and science with her next year. She’ll just tag along with whatever I use for her older brother…when I decide on that. And if I figure out how to work it into my day.


Apr 262013

I’m working on planning next year’s curriculum.

Confession time, I’m almost ALWAYS planning next year’s curriculum. Maybe I should spend more time focusing on THIS year’s?

David is in high school now. I worried and fretted about it for years ahead of time. But actually, it’s been a pretty good year.

Maybe I shouldn’t have worried? Or maybe the worry helped?

I love the freedom of homeschooling. I love being able to select curricula for all of my children and their own unique needs. And while I love the general concept of delight-directed learning, there are certain subjects that we have to teach whether my kids like them or not.

David is a math, science, and computer kid. He really is not into history, social studies, or literature at all. But he still has to study them. On deck for next year is Economics and Civics. I’ve done some searching and I’m not finding a lot that is likely to interest David. (i.e. I think he would hate everything I’ve looked at.)

But “lucky” for me (and David), I discovered Compass Classroom. First, David tried Visual Latin. It started out as a review, but he ended up liking it so much that we switched over to it for Latin II this year! Then in the fall, I enrolled him in Filmmaking from the First Directors. That has been an incredible class for him. It is excellent. (But a lot of work!!!)

Needless to say, when I got the chance to review another of their products, Economics for Everyone, I jumped at the chance. I have not been disappointed.

Economics for Everyone consists of 12 video lessons and a pdf study guide. The lessons are taught by R.C. Sproul, Jr. and just like everything else from Compass Classroom, they are engaging and fun. These are not videos of R.C. Sproul standing in a classroom, but instead include fun video clips from a wide variety of old movies.

Economics for Everybody | Trailer from Compass Cinema on Vimeo.


See what I mean? These lessons bring an often “boring” subject to life with simple explanations and excellent illustrations of economic concepts.

I don’t actually think economics is boring. I even minored in it in college. 

Things to mention:

EconomicsThis course is titled Economics for Everybody, but it is from an unapologetically Christian perspective. The whole foundation of the study is on man’s place in this world and how he was put here by God. I think the “everybody” is referring to the fact that R.C. Sproul, Jr. explains everything so well that “everybody” can understand.

I would not consider this course alone to be sufficient for 1/2 high school credit. However, neither do the publishers and they have included a generous list of additional resources and even suggested texts to accompany the study.

Disclosure: The links to Compass Classroom products are affiliate links. I received a free copy of Economics for Everybody in order to write this review. I was not compensated for this post. Opinions expressed are my own.

Sep 062012

I remember when all my friends started getting into the scrapbooking craze. I was recently married and working full-time. I loved seeing their creations, but I feared that once I started, I would never get a photo into an album again. I also didn’t like having to buy so much to get started, not to mention the amount of space necessary to store all the materials. So even though scrapbooking appealed to me in some ways, I avoided ever starting the hobby.

Several years ago I started hearing about digital scrapbooking. I have pretty decent computer skills so I was intrigued. I tried using some generic print software to make scrapbook pages, but was never very successful making anything that I thought looked good. Part of the problem was that the generic program didn’t have all the elements of a “real” scrapbook. Plus using a generic program requires more skill and talent in designing than I possess.

I was recently given My Memories Suite Digital Scrapbooking software to review. Wow, what a difference! My Memories Suite comes with TONS of pre-loaded scrapbooking templates. It also has many different styles of paper, embellishments, word art, shapes, and much more included. You can make a scrapbook page in seconds (literally) if you choose a pre-made template and just add pictures. Or you can let your own creative juices flow, and design your own.

I found the software to be fairly straightforward and easy to use. It’s easy to insert elements and move them around. They only thing I’ve tried but haven’t figured out yet, is how to use the pictures from iPhoto. (I should mention that My Memories is available for both PC and Mac which is great since I’m a newly converted Mac user.)

Here’s my very first page.

I love the fact that you can sit down and work on your scrapbook without making a mess. Plus you don’t have to store all the scrapbooking supplies. They’re all there on the hard drive. With My Memories you can save and share your scrapbooks in a variety of ways. You can have your pages printed professionally, or you can print them yourself. You can share them on the web, burn them to a CD, or even put them on your iPod! You can even add hyperlinks, video, music, and narration to your albums! The possibilities are endless.

Which really is the only downside to My Memories Suite. There are so many options, it’s hard to decide. In addition to all the stuff that comes pre-loaded with the software, there are also great templates and pages available at www.MyMemories.com.

I mentioned my lack of design talent earlier (Please do keep that in mind and don’t judge the software by my very beginning results!). One of the things that I am finding helpful are the speed scraps. Every week, My Memories posts a speed scrap challenge on their Facebook page. They post very simple guidelines and step-by-step  instructions for making a quick page. These are very simple like:

  1. Pick 2 types of paper. Make 1 a background.
  2. Add 1 picture to your page.
  3. Mat picture with second paper.
  4. Add 4 embellishments.

I made that one up, but you get the idea. I find them really helpful because it keeps me moving along and not getting so overwhelmed with all the possibilities. Plus it really helps to see other people’s creations!

Here’s my first speed scrap page.
I think the result is much nicer! I’ve definitely got lots of room for improvement though.


Do you scrapbook? Have you wanted to try digital scrapbooking? Now is your chance!


I have one extra copy of My Memories Suite to give away! Follow the instructions below to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Feb 102012

When I hinted to my husband almost 2 years ago that I wanted an iPod Touch, I just thought they looked neat. I had some on-line friends who had them, and they said they were useful for school and reading e-books. So I kind of mentioned how educational they were. I really didn’t think he was going to buy me one, so I was shocked to receive it for Mother’s Day (and our anniversary) in 2010.

I had no idea how much I was going to use it! But I am even more surprised at how much my 5 year old daughter uses it. There are so many great educational game and book apps for young children. I recently received a new one that has quickly become her new favorite.

The Foot Book  app from Oceanhouse Media is the classic Dr. Seuss book turned into an app for the iPod, iPhone, or iPad. (It is also available for Android, Amazon, and Nook.) It has the complete text and illustrations with several options. The child can have app read the book aloud. In this mode, the book is read aloud and the words are highlighted as they are read. He can tap the pictures along the way for some fun extras. The child is in control of turning the pages in this mode.The second mode is Read it Myself. This mode has no sound and is great practice for the beginning reader. Finally, there is the auto play mode. This is like the read-aloud mode except that the pages automatically advance. This might come in handy for younger children who might have trouble making the pages go forward or might accidentally cancel the reading to go back to the menu. (Though honestly, I am constantly amazed at how easily children can understand how to operate apps on a touch screen. I have had to show my daughter very little.)

This app is very well done and is a big hit here! Visit Oceanhouse Media to see their collection of Dr. Seuss books, as well as hundreds of other apps for children.

Disclosure: I received this app free in exchange for my review. All opinions expressed are my own.


Oct 282011

The world is on the brink of disaster and the clock is ticking. Iran has just conducted its first atomic weapons test. Millions of Muslims around the world are convinced their messiah—known as “the Twelfth Imam”—has just arrived on earth. Israeli leaders fear Tehran, under the Twelfth Imam’s spell, will soon launch a nuclear attack that could bring about a second holocaust and the annihilation of Israel. The White House fears Jerusalem will strike first, launching a preemptive attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities that could cause the entire Middle East to go up in flames, oil prices to skyrocket, and the global economy to collapse. With the stakes high and few viable options left, the president of the United States orders CIA operative David Shirazi and his team to track down and sabotage Iran’s nuclear warheads before Iran or Israel can launch a devastating first strike.

Last Christmas I received a copy of The Twelfth Imam. I was admittedly skeptical at first. It’s quite a long book, and although I am interested in prophecy, I think that the End-times Christian fiction genre is a bit overdone. But it was a gift, so I started reading it. It didn’t really hook me until after I had completed the first 50 pages or more. But after that, the book suddenly didn’t seem so long.

I knew it was the first of a trilogy, so I wasn’t too surprised when the ending was left wide open. But I knew I’d have to read the next book, and I jumped at the chance to review The Tehran Initiative. It picks up right where the first book left off and is even more action-packed and fast-paced. The “good guys” are likable, well-developed characters. The book, while most definitely fiction, contains great information about Islam and the Islamic view of the end-times. Reading fiction like this should give the reader a desire to learn more about the issues from other sources, and The Tehran Initiative has definitely sparked my interest in Middle Eastern affairs.

Below is a link to a brief video by the author, Joel C. Rosenberg. Following that is a more in-depth interview.

I Review For The Tyndale Blog Network

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review purposes. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed are my own. Post contains an affiliate link.


An interview with Joel C. Rosenbergauthor of The Tehran Initiative

1) This is the second book with CIA operative David Shirazi. Where does the story pick up from your previous bestseller The Twelfth Imam?

A: The Tehran Initiative begins about sixty seconds after The Twelfth Imam leaves off. I’ve tried to create a near seamless connection between the two. And there’s another book coming, The Damascus Countdown.

2) You started writing The Tehran Initiative when the Arab Spring began earlier this year. Did events impact your writing or the storyline?

A: Actually, I was well into writing The Tehran Initiative when the “Arab Spring” began and it was a little eerie because the novel opens with the assassination of the President Egypt and Egypt descending into chaos after the leader’s fall. Fortunately, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak wasn’t killed, but he certainly fell quickly and somewhat unexpectedly and Egypt is still reeling from the aftermath. The novel really focuses a great deal on the intense desire amongst many Muslims in the Middle East and North Africa to build a global Islamic empire, or a “caliphate.” And that’s certainly a growing theme among the Islamists in the region this year.Perhaps what struck me most curious since the publication of The Twelfth Imam and while I was researching and writing The Tehran Initiative is that the so-called Supreme Leader of Iran, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has began speaking more publicly about the coming of the Twelfth Imam. He used to be silent, or nearly so, on this subject. He let President Ahmadinejad do all the public talking about Shia End Times theology. But Khamenei has become more bold over the past year or so. He has told people that he has met personally with the Twelfth Imam, though we don’t know what he meant. Did he meet with a flesh and blood person? Did he see a dream? Or a vision? We don’t know. But Khamenei has also asserted that he is the personal representative on earth of the Twelfth Imam, as well as the so-called Prophet Muhammad. These developments – along with his support for Iran’s aggressive nuclear development program – suggest Khamenei senses the time is very short before some claiming to be the Twelfth Imam emerges publicly. In part, that’s why the Iranian government released the pseudo-documentary film in early 2011 called, “The Coming Is Near,” about all the geopolitical signs that they believe are indicators that the Mahdi’s arrival is increasingly close at hand. Whether it will really happen or not remains to be seen. But the Iranian leadership is certainly convinced. Most of them, anyway. And, of course, the Bible tells us in Matthew chapter twenty-four to expect false prophets and false messiahs in the last days. So we can’t rule out the possibility that we’ll actually as false messiah emerge from the Shia world.

3) You’ve earned a reputation of writing stories that seemed ripped from tomorrow’s headlines. What is going on in The Tehran Initiative that we can see unfolding in the news?

A: I think the biggest parallel between The Tehran Initiative and current events is the growing sense amongst Shia Muslim leaders – particularly in Iran – that the Twelfth Imam is coming any moment, coupled with Iran’s feverish efforts to build nuclear weapons, and the Israelis’ growing isolation in the world and feeling that they may have to hit Iran all by themselves.Did you see Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s apocalyptic address at the U.N. in September, or read the full text? You should. It’s instructive. Ahmadinejad is not a world leader worthy of the world stage. He is the evil leader of an Iranian death cult. A recent U.N. report indicates he is making progress in building nuclear weapons. He is calling for the arrival of the Twelfth Imam and wiping Israel “off the map.” He aspires to be a mass murderer beyond the scale of Adolf Hitler. He deserves to be in prison, or an insane asylum. His U.N. speech was further proof, if more was needed.Like Hitler’s speeches in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s, Ahmadinejad isn’t hiding what he believes. He’s pretty clear. He denied the Holocaust. He blasted the U.S. for bringing Osama Bin Laden to justice. He blamed the terrorist attacks 9/11 on the U.S. government. He insisted that his so-called messiah known as “Imam al-Mahdi” or the Twelfth Imam is coming soon. He insisted Jesus Christ will come with the Mahdi to take over the world. He called for a one-world government when he called for “the shared and collective management of the world.”Consider these excerpts: “This movement is certainly on its rightful path of creation, ensuring a promising future for humanity. A future that will be built when humanity initiates to trend the path of the divine prophets and the righteous under the leadership of Imam al-Mahdi, the Ultimate Savior of mankind and the inheritor to all divine messengers and leaders and to the pure generation of our great Prophet. The creation of a supreme and ideal society with the arrival of a perfect human being who is a true and sincere lover of all human beings, is the guaranteed promise of Allah. He will come alongside with Jesus Christ to lead the freedom and justice lovers to eradicate tyranny and discrimination, and promote knowledge, peace, justice freedom and love across the world. He will present to every single individual all the beauties of the world and all good things which bring happiness for humankind.”Though most world leaders do not appear to understand what Ahmadinejad is really saying, students of Shia Islamic eschatology or End Times theology do. The Iranian leader believes the end of the world as we have known it is increasingly close at hand. He believes the time for establishing an Islamic caliphate or global government ruled by the Mahdi is rapidly approaching. What’s more, he believes that the way to hasten the coming of the Twelfth Imam is to acquire nuclear weapons and use them to annihilate the United States, which he calls the “Great Satan” and Israel, which he calls the “Little Satan.”Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu understands what Ahmadinejad means. So do some of his top military advisors. That’s why they believe Iran is in the eye of a gathering storm in the Middle East, and that the chance of a major war is growing.“Iran has not abandoned its nuclear program. The opposite is true; it continues full steam ahead,” warned Israeli Defense Forces Home Front Command Chief Major General Eyal Eisenberg in a speech earlier this month. Also noting recent uprisings in the Arab world and growing tensions with Turkey, Eisenberg said, “This leads us to the conclusion that…the likelihood of an all-out war is increasingly growing.”To me, all this feels ripped from the pages of The Tehran Initiative. Unfortunately, it’s all true.

4) Readers seem to get very attached to your characters. What goes into creating the characters in your novels?

A: It’s the Colonel’s secret recipe of seven herbs and spices. I could tell you, but then I’d have to….well, never mind….no comment to that one.

5) What experiences in your real life do you draw from to piece together these novels that incorporate geo-politics, espionage, romance, and Bible prophecy?

A: Someone once told me, “Write where you live in your head.” For some reason, that advice resonated with me and stuck. I’m fascinated with politics, prophecy and the Middle East. Living in Washington, D.C. and working in and around the political world for the past two decades has certainly helped provide context for me to write political thrillers. I think traveling extensively throughout the Middle East and North Africa has been helpful, too. Somehow, it’s all worked together in a way some people find as interesting as I do.

6) You often incorporate Old Testament prophecy in your books. What scriptures do you draw from for this book and why?

A: There’s no question that I am absolutely intrigued by Bible prophecy, and I like to start with an End Times prophecy – or a group of last days prophecies – and ask, “What if these were to happen in my lifetime? What would it look like? What would it feel like? How might such prophecies realistically be set into motion, and what might be the implications of their fulfillment?” That’s how I approach writing these books. But I don’t think of it like writing a fantasy novel or science fiction. I’m genuinely trying to imagine how it could really play out? I’m not saying these prophecies will necessarily come to pass the way I envision them, but they are interest to war game and see what happens. And given what’s happening in the real world today, I think readers are as curious as I am, and somehow my plots don’t feel that far-fetched.

7) You’ve been successful with your non-fiction books Epicenter and Inside the Revolution and you have a large following reading your analysis of Middle East events on your blog and e-newsletter “Flash Traffic.” Why do you continue to choose writing novels about the Middle East?

A: What could be more interesting? Presidents and presidential candidates constantly focus on the Middle East. Prime Ministers do. Kings do. Generals do. The media does. The economists do. The fact is, the eyes of the nations are riveted on Israel and her neighbors, the epicenter of the momentous events that are shaking our world and shaping our future. The stakes are very high. There is lots of uncertainty. It’s mysterious and dangerous and complex – it has all the elements of riveting political thrillers. And the Bible says the Middle East will become even more dramatic until the very return of Jesus Christ. Why write about anything else?

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Aug 312011

Academics are an important part of our homeschool. We have high standards and I make no apologies for that. But as we work hard, we try to remember 1 Corinthians 10:31:

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

God’s glory and serving God have always been the #1 priority of our homeschool and our lives.

At least that is our highest priority on paper.

I confess that it hasn’t always been my highest priority in practice. And there is a word for saying one thing and acting in a different way. It’s called hypocrite.

It’s not hard for kids to recognize. They can see it much easier than I could see it in myself.  And it’s so very dangerous.

But I am thankful that God is so gracious and merciful to me. He nudges me gently. (And sometimes not so gently.)

There were several things that I was “required” to read in the last month that God used mightily in showing me what my true priorities are.

One of them is this little book: How to Have a H.E.A.R.T. For Your Kids by Rachael Carman. Rachael begins the book with her own story of how she began homeschooling, and shares very openly the mistakes she made in trying to homeschool in her own power. She then begins to share 5 simple steps that will change your thinking about how your homeschool. She uses the acronym H.E.A.R.T.

H- Have a heart for the things of God
E- Enrich your marriage
A- Accept your kids
R-Release them to God
T-Teach them the Truth

I learned so much from this book. Well, learned is maybe not the right word. I have heard much of this before. I just wasn’t doing it. I was failing at the very first priority. I have to have a heart for the things of God! No wonder my kids weren’t having a heart for the things of God. I have to be a living, breathing example to them. I have to be more transparent with them. I have to demonstrate walking with God to them in a real way. I have to be faithful to Him. If I preach that to my children and fail to do it myself, I am a hypocrite!

I do not mean I have to be perfect. I also do not need to make my kids think I’m perfect. (That would be an impossible task anyway.) But I need to let them see my heart. And my heart needs to be focused on the things of God.

I have read the whole book and the other letters are just as powerful as the H. But H really spoke to me as I read the book the first time. I will be reading this again! (And in case you can’t tell, I highly recommend it to all homeschool moms.)

You can purchase this book from Apologia for $13.00.(Rachael and her husband Davis are the owners of Apologia Educational Ministries.) There is also a sample chapter available for free on the website.


You can read more reviews of How To Have a H.E.A.R.T. For Your Kids on the Homeschool Crew blog.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book as a member of TOS Homeschool Crew. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.






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